LETTER: New Years Day at Government House a moment of optimism

I was one of the many hundreds of people who partook in the New Year’s Day Levee this year at Government House. It is always a treat to be invited as members of the public to explore the lovely ballroom and the delight of personally shaking the hands of our ever changing lieutenant–governor.

It was not the fabulous decorations, nor the beautiful architecture though, that made a lasting impression on me this New Year’s Levee however. It was the Lt. Gov. Janet Austin’s speech to us in the audience. She embraced the truth and reconciliation process, reminded everyone there to support the homeless, Our Place and always be working against social injustices as she had done through out her entire career.

Lt. Gov. Austin also reminded us of the intelligence of our Queen Elizabeth and her true dedication to her lifelong roll as monarch. With the mention of England’s parliamentary system she reminded us all of the fragility of the democracies of the world and we as Canadians must be mindful of the dangers of taking for granted the democratic rule we enjoy here in Canada. She never mentioned south of the border but she did not have to. The speech was followed by Rose Henry joined by the audience in a ceremonial chant on behalf of women warriors past and present. It was truly moving and warmly embraced by all in the room.

This New Year’s Day spent at Government House I came away with a renewed sense of opportunity for Canada to continue to show the world how and why our country with our morals, ideals and our social empathy, continues to be the envy of many. Also, the visit was a stark reminder that freedom and democratic rule must not be taken for granted by us Canadians.

Rachel McDonnell

Oak Bay

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